Kyrgyz leader demands peace amid instability after elections annulled

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Sooronbai Sharipovich Jeenbekov

Kyrgyzstan’s President Sooronbay Jeenbekov demanded peace between rival political groups in the Central Asian republic on Wednesday after recent parliamentary elections were annulled amid widespread allegations of vote-rigging.

Protesters earlier this week stormed into key government buildings in the capital, Bishkek, including the parliament, presidential offices and a national security department.

Numerous senior officials have gone into hiding, notably the interior minister, according to Kyrgyz state media reports. The prime minister has tendered his resignation.

“I did not endanger human lives and did not give the command to use force against those who broke into the White House building,” Jeenbekov said in a statement, referring to a major administration building that was set on fire during this week’s protests.

“Today the most urgent task is to ensure peace and public order in Kyrgyzstan,” Jeenbekov said in the statement, posted on his website.

“I call on all parties to be patient and restrained,” he said. “I remind you again that the interests of the state are higher than personal ambitions.”

Jeenbekov, president for three years, said he rejected calls from subordinate officials for the “violent suppression of protesters,” saying such a step would have exacerbated the situation.
Protesters alleged that Sunday’s vote was manipulated to ensure the dominance of political parties loyal to Jeenbekov.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which had independently monitored the voting, said there were reported irregularities, including “credible allegations of vote-buying.”

The national electoral authority proceeded to annul the official election results, with the frontrunners having been two pro-government parties, including the democratic socialist Birimdik (Unity) party, most closely associated with Jeenbekov.

New elections should be held within the coming months. Kyrgyzstan has undergone two revolutions in the past two decades, in 2005 and 2010.

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